Today at the weekly general audience in Rome, Pope Benedict spoke publicly for the first time on fighting clerical sex abuse within the Church. The Holy Father told the crowd in St. Peter's Square about how he gave “assurances of the Church's action” at a meeting with abuse victims in Malta.
The Pontiff made his remarks following his recent papal visit to Malta last weekend, where he met with eight men who said they were abused by priests in a Church-operated orphanage on the island.
Pope Benedict recalled on Wednesday that during his tearful encounter with the men, he “shared their suffering and, greatly moved, prayed with them, giving them assurances of the Church's action” on fighting clerical sex abuse.
Although the Vatican issued a statement on Sunday detailing the Pope's meeting with abuse victims in Malta's Apostolic Nunciature in Rabat, this is the first time that the Pontiff has spoken personally on the matter.
The Sunday statement from the Vatican said that the Holy Father was “deeply moved” upon hearing the victims' stories. Expressing his “shame and sorrow” for the suffering caused to them and their families, he prayed with them, asking that they would be experience healing and reconciliation and be able to look to the future with renewed hope.
The statement also recounted the Holy Father's assurance of the Church's commitment, now and into the future, to do everything possible to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, bring perpetrators to justice and implement effective measures for the protection of young people.